Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bracing Myself

Mom is already (after only 2 days in rehab)
trying to predict when she can come home.

She has determined that next weekend should be good.

Still wheel chair bound, she seems totally blind to her physical limitations
and the challenge this home presents to someone in a wheel chair.
Suggestions and reminders that her stay will be longer
seem to fall in deaf ears.

I am bracing myself for the depression, the anger, the disappointment.

Even though she is not in my home now,
she fills my brain with worry.

This will be a very difficult period.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Through My Care Giver Eyes - Resilience

Yesterday mom was admitted to Sub Acute Rehab to recover from the fall she took last week.

Once again we crossed the threshold of that wonderful nursing facility that we visited about 10 months ago.

I couldn't help but compare the two visits.

In December 2010 mom and I were both new-bees to the rehab experience. We didn't know what to expect and what would be required. We were both tired and anxious that month. Mom had been pretty sick and was very weak. Neither of us was standing tall on that first visit. Thankfully we landed in a wonderful community that propped us up and got us back on track - health wise! And I learned a lot about what high quality rehab care was all about.

Now, 10 months later, as we returned, we were different people. Yes, we were both bone weary from the last week at home. Mom is not sick but she is injured ... and desperately weak again. But this time we were greeted by many familiar faces who welcomed us back. It felt comfortable. The first day procedures were the same. We were walking a familiar path. There was also a sense that we will once again climb ourselves out of the current hole we fell into and come out the other side at a "new normal."

Always a "new normal."

Always less than before.

It gave me comfort to see mom adjust so fast to this new but not new environment. She had been anxious the days leading up to this admission. No amount of talk could settled her mind. She didn't remember her last experiences. This was "new" to her brain and she was scared. But as the day rolled on she remembered. The staff was open and welcoming. She had exactly the same room as before. She ate her meals with gusto (I think she has gotten tired of my cooking. Me, too!). And when the time came for me to leave, she appeared at peace with it. She said her normal goodbyes and I almost felt dismissed.

The elderly can be surprisingly resilient.

And I am different too. I know her rehabilitation is required. I can't do this at home. She must stay as long as it takes to get her moving again. There will be no early discharge like the last time. Elderly issues can't be rushed. Health and strength are not regained over night. And my presence at rehab, while great as a visiting daughter, doesn't have to be 24/7. She is in good hands.

Returning home, the house seemed empty. Too quiet. I already missed her and it had only been 8 hours since she left. But I have a long list of things I need to do while she is gone. I'll keep busy. I will visit her often.

And I need to recover a bit myself.

Thankfully, I am resilient as well.

Retired Knitter
Care Giver and Daughter

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Through My Care Giver Eyes - One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Just a short update
Forward and Back

Backward - she fell

Forward - she appeared OK initially

Backward - she wasn't OK - and getting worse steadily

Forward - x-ray was negative - no breaks or fractures

Forward - no emergency room or hospital stay

Backward - unable to rise from chair or walk without pain - needs constant monitoring

Backward - almost fell in the middle of the night from her bed

Backward - hurt my back - not badly but makes it hard to assist her with the lifting stuff

Forward - decision made - she must go back into sub acute rehab

Backward - I am now sleeping on the floor outside her room at night

Forward - busy weekend with company - she was happy

Backward - she never leaves her chair except to go to the bathroom or to go to bed

Backward - getting weaker by the moment - you can see it happening each day

Forward - got her into my first choice rehab facility into a private room- a Cadillac of an institution

Backward - must wait 4 days before she can be admitted - room available then

Backward - must limp along as we are doing now for 4 days

Backward - she is sad because she has to leave the house

Backward - her pain continues, her weakness grows visibly every day

Backward - my back continues to stiffen

Backward - must miss my knitting group today - small backward step really compared to all we are dealing with ... but they keep me from total isolation ... they are my sanity group ... they are meeting right this minute and I am now sad because I am not there.

Backward - two more nights of sleeping on the floor - hope my back holds out

Backward - it is now 9:40 am and she is still in bed - will she be bed ridden by Thursday? is she depressed?

The trends are definitely downward.
But the die is cast.
She must go into rehab so we can all take back our lives.

Forward - I am resolute! This is the right step to take. What will be, will be. I will change this downward trend even if it is by force of my will alone!

I will.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Through My Care Giver Eyes - Roller Coasters

I don't really like roller coasters. They make me vomit, and I hate to vomit.

But elder care giving is a roller coaster ride - the only difference there is no vomiting, only sleep deprivation.

If you read Thursday's post you would know that on that day I was choking and mom was falling. I recovered quickly. Mom did not.

Friday we took an ambulance ride to radiology to confirm that she did not have any breaks or fractures. Great news. Based on a stat read of the films she was able to go home instead of the hospital. Woo Hoo!!! Happy me!

Of course I should have been a little more observant of the situation on the way to radiology. It took the medical transport men (2 big guys) 40 minutes to get mom from her den to my first floor (maybe 30 feet). That should have been the first clue that she was not too good. As the guys were passing by me in my front yard with mom strapped on the gurney (finally) and heading to the the ambulance, mom says to me with a poisonous look, "I wish they were putting me in a wooden box." Nice. :-(

I reminded her in front of total strangers that only God could put her in a wooden box and that she needed to adjust her attitude a bit to make it easier on the people who were taking care of her while she was on this earth. And I had to say it loudly because her hearing aids weren't working too well. As they all passed by, one of the transport guys gave me a thumbs up and said "good one" under his breath! I think God made him say that just to give me a little boost! :-)

That was Friday.

Since she fell I have been sleeping nearby. Thursday night I slept in her den adjacent to her bedroom. I told her I would be there and she should call if she wanted to get out of bed. She never called me when she got up to urinate. In the morning I was upset and reminded her she needed to call me so I could help her. The Thursday night passed without problems. I assumed the same for Friday night.

Friday night she called out at 2:00 am (good). I leaped off the air mattress and turned the corner to find her hanging from the bed rails by her hands, legs bent, feet inches from the floor - unwilling to put weight on her legs because of the pain. I ran over to her, put my arms under her 155 pound body and lifted her dead weight onto the bed. I have a slight frame and weigh 140 pounds. We both were panting with the fear and effort. I am still not sure how I did that. My back hasn't been the same since then.

And then, standing by the side of the bed, the anger set in. I was TOTALLY and BLINDING angry at her for not calling me to help her get out of bed, and I was even more angry at myself for letting things get to this level. Since mom's fall she has been unable to raise herself from a chair and unable to walk - all due to muscle and or ligament injury. There were no broken bones, but tissue injury can be just as hard to deal with.

Once she was safely back in bed, I sat in her den - wide awake and filled with adrenalin. I came to the conclusion that she was officially beyond my ability to cope, and I was angry that I hadn't seen it before. I was up until 4:30 am that night sorting out my feelings.

I sent an email to the doctor asking her to return and assess her mobility (or lack of mobility). And after talking things over with my family, we decided that she needed to be placed in rehab again.

The doctor suggest 4 to 6 weeks in rehab. So that is where we are heading this week.

Until she is admitted into sub acute rehab, I am now sleeping on the floor in the hall outside her bedroom where I can see her. Attached to her bed rail is a coke can with coins. She can shake that can if she needs help, but if that fails (and it will) I will also know if she is trying to get out of bed on her own by the noise.

And what do you think she asked me this evening while sitting placidly in her chair?

"Do you think we can go to Mass tomorrow morning?"


This care giver life is a roller coaster. I hate roller coasters.

I think I am going to go vomit now!!


Retired Knitter
Care Giver and Daughter

PS - postings will be episodic this week. A lot needs to be done to get mom settled where she can get well. I'll be back!

PPS - you may also remember that my dear Maxima, Maxine, was failing. We needed to get another car pronto if we wanted to be mobile ourselves. We did, thanks to my dearest daughter who took care of her Grandmother for 6 hours on Saturday. But that is another post!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Can you top this?

It was one of those days.

Bright, sunny, crisp, cool and fall-ish. Perfect really.

I knew it couldn't last.

I had 4 things to do today. Piece of cake.
  1. Food shop
  2. Get mom out for her flu shot.
  3. Get the title of the Maxima from the bank - we are car shopping.
  4. Go pick up Milo in Bethesda.
Grocery shopping went well enough. My husband and I have always food shopped together all 42 years. Mom was eating breakfast when we left. She was feeling pretty good today. She planned to clean up the dishes and get dressed while we were gone.

Arriving home the first problem was discovered. As I walked in the door, I saw mom's feet on the floor - not in a standing position either. She had fallen and had sat on the floor for 40 minutes in our absence. We got her upright. She seemed fine. She walked very slowly to the bathroom and then went upstairs to get dressed. But I decided we didn't need to go for the flu shot today. I called her doctor, cancelled the appointment and the doctor promised to visit the house by tomorrow just to check her out and give her the flu shot.

When will I ever learn. Appearances are deceiving in elder care ... but I am skipping forward too fast.

So the next thing on the agenda for today was the title of the car. I headed for the bank. As I walked into the bank lobby a very nice attendant asked if they could help me. I opened my mouth to speak and the partially chewed nut in my mouth slipped into my wind pipe. I began to violently cough, to gag ... my breathing was difficult. People raced to my side, offered me tissues, water, lead me to a chair, I kept coughing. I tried to take a breath and it sounded thin and ragged. I couldn't fill my lungs with air.

It was kind of an out of body experience.

I remember thinking, "maybe I should be panicky, boy that inhalation sounds bad, gosh I can't seem to to fill my lungs". They asked if I wanted them to call 911 Emergency. I shook my head no, but couldn't say anything. Seconds later a bank manager said in my ear (while I am coughing, tears running down my face, gagging), "Emergency is coming. I just wanted you to know." They pulled up, brought the gurney into the lobby. Other thoughts popped in my head, "Damn, if they take me to the hospital and my car is in this parking lot, how will I get to Milo," ... don't forget my agenda!! :-)

By the time Emergency came I could tell that I had managed to cough up the offending nut. Fluid was still streaming from every orifice of my head, coughing/gagging was still going on, but my breath was returning. I still couldn't speak, but I could fill my lungs (and then try to cough one of them out onto the rug), but still!!

Once I began to improve, I improved quickly. I signed a release saying I refused to go to the hospital. I was fine.

And I was.

So I got the car title and tried to slink out of the lobby after thanking the bank manager. And I drove out to Bethesda to get Milo.

Upon returning home, I discovered mom couldn't walk. She said on a scale of 1 to 10 - with 10 being the worst pain ever - her pain when putting weight on her right leg was a 10. Damn!!!

I called the doctor again. This day was defiantly not one of my better ones!

Now it is 10:45 pm. I sit in my mom's den waiting to hear if she needs help getting out of bed to urinate. I am dead tired. She is struggling with pain, but she has a pain patch on to help. It probably will be a difficult night, but ...

We are home ... for now. Tomorrow will start with a 6:45 am visit from the doctor, maybe a trip by ambulance to radiology, maybe a trip to the ER ... but, for now, we are home.

I am glad!

I am breathing pretty good, too! :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A to Z Challenge 2012

April 2012 will be here before you know it.

Last year I participated in a Blog Fest - my first - called A to Z Challenge. And it was a BLAST!!

Really, I wouldn't lie to you. And they are in the planning stages now for the April 2012 Challenge. In fact, they have set up a special blog just for planning and ongoing announcements. You will find it here if you are curious, and you are curious ... you know you are, so hit this blog link now to check it out.

Last year over 1000 bloggers participated and it was just an incredible fun event. We expect way more participants in 2012! So take a peak now, like I mean right now .... press this button.

In a nutshell, during the month of April you blog using the prompt of a letter of the alphabet. April 1 is the letter A, April 2 is the letter B ... and so on. You get the idea. The are "rest" days built in - so you blog only 24 days - one for each letter of the alphabet. That it! Here is the link.

Well, no, not really "it!"

You see, you add your blog link to a very, very long list of participating blogs. And you get the most fun of all ... visiting tons of blogs you never even knew about ... and you get lots of visitors yourself. One really cool feature is a blog hopping button that you can add to your blog. You just hit that button and it blog hops you around some really fantastic blogs. Man, don't you just want to hit this blog link now????

The anticipation is starting to build, the bloggers are beginning to line up (find out here), (some are even beginning to think of cool ideas for blog posts now ... like me!! :-) ), and there is tons of fun to be had! So don't miss out. Hit this dang-gon button!!!

Check out this link. I mean ... really, press this link and take a look. Do it! I'll wait!

waiting .... waiting .... waiting ... waiting

Oh, Hi, back again? Did you sign up? Didn't I tell you this was the coolest!!

See you there!!!
oh ... and here is the link!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Stupid, Silly, Sad Sentimentality

My time with Maxine is growing shorter.

My 2003 Maxima, Maxine, has been with me since late 2002. I have been her driver all that time, and we have had some wonderful experiences together. I know it is silly, stupid and sad to apply sentimentality to an intimate object. But I seem to do it with cars.

She is an old girl now, her paint job is marked with dings and scratches, her headlights look yellowish rather than clear (do cars get cataracts?), and her interior speaks volumes of the multiple trips where she carried my most precious cargo ... my grand-dogs.

But she still can move like a youngster when I need her to.

My favorite memory with Maxine occurred early on in our relationship. On the way home from work one evening traffic was horrendous. Coming around the merge ramp to the high speed highway I was appalled by the volume of traffic and the speed it was moving ... fast! And then I saw it, a small break in the line of cars. I assessed the possibilities and applied the gas ... and the young Maxine took off like a shot!! We were at speed in no time and we slipped easily into the space. I remember the glow I felt at that moment. I remember patting the steering wheel and saying "fabulous, great job, Maxine you are the best." So thrilled with her performance, I shared the story with my husband when I got home. His response: "Do you know how much gas you use when you do that?" Guess you can figure out which one of us is the adult in this relationship.

There are many more experiences that bonded me to this car. And the love affair continued over all these years. I overlooked a lot in the last 12 months: the fact she took only premium gas, that she needed high performance tires because she was considered a high performance car, that she didn't handle all that well in snow, that her miles per gallon has slipped considerably, that the driver's side window sometimes wouldn't stay up, that her CD player was starting to skip, that her repairs were starting to get expensive (we just replaced her front tires and she had a $1500 struts replacement just recently.) Yes, I have overlooked a lot. Love is like that. But now she is burning oil - about a quart per 1000 miles. My husband has reached the tipping point on this car and I guess I have too.
Today we took her in to our mechanic of over 25 years - just to re-check the oil - just to be sure the fact she was 2 quarts down a month ago wasn't an anomaly. She was down another quart. They had looked for a leak and couldn't find one. As my husband and I walked out I could feel the tears streaming down my face.

I wasn't ready to give this car up.

Stupid, silly and sad sentimentality!

Another car is in our near future. I won't be giving it a name. I won't be getting attached to it, either. I won't, I won't, I won't.

I already have enough legitimate sadness in my life without finding ways to be sad about inanimate objects. But I am going to miss this car big time.

AND I hate car show rooms and car sales people. I am sure they are nice people with families and all, but I hate the bargaining game and the "let's make a deal" attitude. (Especially when I don't really want this new car.)

OK, I am done moaning out loud now.

Still sad.

Through My Care Giver Eyes - Isolation

There are a few emotions related to care giving that I never anticipated. And some of these emotions have changed who I am as a person.

One is social isolation.

The short version is this: as the elderly person's scope narrows, the care giver's scope can also narrow.

As I mentioned previously, it is not uncommon to find the social connections, hobbies, physical abilities and health of the elderly narrow resulting in a very home bound life. Sometimes keeping up socially is "just too much trouble" for the elderly. And if this happens it can impact the care giver as well.

I have been a social person most of my life. Projecting my life into my retirement ... I anticipated many things that would keep me outside the home. I was never one to gain energy from being at home or time alone.

For example, here are activities I could joyfully predict would fill my life with if there were no constraints.

Tai Chi
Knitting Groups (I attend only one - there are three.)
Book Discussion Groups
Exercise - walking, Curves, Yoga
Visiting friends
Art classes at the local community college
Day trips
Vacations and Travel
Cat and Dog Shows
Crafts and Craft Shows
Volunteer activities at local animal shelters or wild life center
Light hiking
Dog park visits with my grand babies
Beach trips with friends
Exhibits - live in the Washington Baltimore corridor - there is a lot to do

If you examine this partial list carefully, most take place outside the home.

My reality now is that being "around the house" is necessary if you want to know what is going on and to assist with certain tasks. Being "around" is what Mom seems to need as well. When I am gone, she "forgets" where I am, she frets, she waits, she worries ...

So I have tried to find ways to develop pastimes and hobbies that keep me at home, but keep me isolated. They all tended to be the kinds of activities that would appeal to a hermit, not a social butterfly.

My activities look alot like this ...
Knitting, weaving, spinning
Ipad games
Pod Casts
Reading - Audio books
Dog sitting
House keeping - Decluttering
Inviting friends to our house

I enjoy these all activities, but the list is much shorter, and it is more solitary. I have managed to hold onto my Tuesday morning knitting group time away from the house. But knitting group is a single social event in a great waste land of solitary activities.

Despite everything I have said to this point, I am NEVER really alone. Mom, my husband, my kids, my granddogs ... they pretty much fill my life. I am grateful for them. But I have grown to greatly value my alone time. For example, driving to pick up my grand dogs is one such alone activity I truly enjoy. Just me with my thoughts (and thousands of Washington Baltimore drivers - but they don't count.) When Mom asks if she can go with me, I usually tell her no. I feel bad because she could use some time out of the house as well, but I need that time for me. My walks (infrequent as of late) are another alone time that I cherish. I used to enjoy walking with my husband. Now walking alone is more satisfying. Crazy as it sounds, if I could take a week's vacation by my self - I would be in heaven.

Some solitary activities are desired, others are not.

The person writing this blog post today is very different the person who started on the care giving journey 5 years ago. I am a person with limited ability and energy to give. I used to think there was no bottom to my giving nature. There is. I value my alone time more now than I ever did before. I find my alone time to be a precious commodity. I am a person who experienced great disappointment and loss in this journey and it has changed me. Solitary time is sometimes more rewarding than all the social and familial activities that I once enjoyed.

Contractions? Maybe.

It all comes down to an isolation that I didn't seek out but accept as part of my role - my care giver role. Someday that role will disappear. It will be interesting to see if the current changes to my nature, my personality, remain.

I believe that some life experiences mark you, change you, permanently.

I feel changed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You know it is Halloween because ...

... weird stuff shows up.

The Brain Slugs I made and showed in a previous posting
were part of a Halloween Costume for my son and his fiancee.
Yesterday they went to the Halloween Party.
And of course, they had to pose for a picture.

Here is the final product.

Cute - now that I know a little more about what I was making.

If you want to know a little more follow this link.

I sure I am the only one who was clueless about Futurama and Brain Slugs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rainy Ride

Today was Thursday! Thursday is the day I drive into Bethesda to pick up Milo. Come with me on my trip!

Although it was rainy, the first part of the trip down Route 95 was pretty tame.

But this was just the first 5 minutes. This weekly trip can take the normal 30 minutes or it can take 2 1/2 hours ... one way!

Don't move to the Washington DC area unless you can tolerate traffic.

Of course, I generally have a reward built into the beginning of the trip.

A Frappe Mocka with an extra shot of expresso. Whip cream and a cherry on the top, frosty ice cream with chocolate and coffee flavors. Yumm ... It is 8 points on my diet, but worth every point. And I count it as lunch since I am not hungry after drinking it.

However, this is probably my last one. The last few have upset my stomach a bit - having problems with GI regurg and this treat seems to set off gas symptoms. Boo.

As I approached the Washington Beltway the traffic picked up. So typical. But the back up is moving.

I am always surprised when I can make this trip without a back up. Of course with rain, you can almost count on traffic delays.

Soon the traffic breaks up on the Beltway, but if you look to the left, it is a "parking lot" on the other side of the road.

Oh well. Maybe it will be gone when I make the return trip. (HA!) If not, I am prepared.

Yes, knitting!! In fact, my husband suggested I bring a bed roll! Maybe a tooth brush and tooth paste. LOL

I will have my knitting and my Milo so I will be happy.

Finally! Milo's home.

And look who is waiting!

Bet his mom told him that his Grandma was coming.

Smiling? Yes, I think so.

Ready to get in the car!

"Hey look everyone, I am going to Grandma's."

The traffic did not disappoint! A bear of a trip back to Grandma's.

"But I am with Grandma, so who cares."
"Ah, Grandma, who is driving the car if one hand is one me and one hand is on the camera?"

Dear Milo. that is what knees are for.

(Actually we were stopped ... really.)

Almost home - thankfully! Love the fall colors even in the dismal weather.

"I think we are here!!"

"Grandma, we are here, right? I think I see Blitz, my friend."

Another safe trip to Bethesda and back under our belts!!

End Result

Besides the fun projects in previous posts, my days were filled with dog sitting, vet visits for sick dogs, and dinner company. I most definitely was not idle during the blogging break.

I have been almost daily blogger since I began writing in July 2010. And I have loved every moment. The brainstorming of ideas, the writing of postings, getting the pictures, launching and reading the comments ... all great fun. And the social and emotional needs that lead me to blogging were met.

Blogging, however, is very time consuming. I don't know how others write, but for me it is a multi-step process. It goes something like this:
  • Ah - a possible idea idea!
  • Drop the idea in a draft post.
  • Write free form whatever my fingers and brain decide.
  • Read it - it is crap ... what were my brain and fingers thinking?
  • Re-write.
  • Read again.
  • Edit, edit, edit.
  • Take pictures
  • Organize and name pictures on my computer.
  • Upload.
  • Edit some more.
  • Pick a date and "Publish."
  • Edit daily until the publish date arrives (shouldn't be necessary but I still find ways to simplify, correct, fix grammar ... right up to the end).
I knew blogging was time-consuming, but when I took a break, I became so productive in the house with other stuff, I was a bit embarrassed by the time I had spent on the computer.

So the long and short of this posting is that my blogging schedule will slow a bit. I can't spend so much time on the computer.

I know that most successful blogs publish everyday, sometimes several times a day. I will try to blog 4 times a week.

We will see how that goes. And maybe I will have time to catch up on reading all your blogs as well.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Cassidy

One other knitting project has been started while I was on a blogging break.

I usually don't have 2 sweaters on the needles on the same time, but I had a bit of "start-itis" and felt the need to cast on a few big projects.

I have waited a long time to start this particular sweater so I put it on the needles as soon as possible.

This lovely hoodie, The Cassidy, has been on my to-do list for probably 3 years. I love to knit cables and this one has a bunch. But the cables are described as low bulk cabling - or cables that lie very flat to the body and as such, do not add bulk to the wearer (always a good thing.)

I am not far along but I am past the "dangerous periods" for others nearby ... the rest should be smooth sailing.

This yarn is called Mas Acero. It is 60% wool, 24% silk and 16% viscose. It comes from Brooke's Farm in Lancaster, Texas. Brooke's Farm is one of my "absolutely must go to and buy from vendors" at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. If I have any money left after visiting them, I shop with others.

Believe it or not, this yarn is red - my display shows it as orange - a nice orange, but not the actual color.

The yarn has a light feel to the hand and wonderful drape. I have had this yarn about 3 years as well.

I started the Cassidy after I started other projects. Casting on went very smoothly. Minimal swearing. No one needed to leave the room. No ripping out. No wine.

Big improvement really.

Knitting, it is just like riding a bike ... only with swearing.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Progress ... of a kind

This is my favorite yarn of all time.

It has been discontinued by Classic Elite and is now on clearance at Webs. I am soooo sad it is going away for good, but happy to finally get some on almost 50% off.

This color is called Azalea. Isn't beautiful? I have had this yarn for only about 3 weeks and it already has an extensive history with me.

I cast on for a sweater after a whole day of trying to get the correct gauge in multiple swatches. Knitted from the hem up, the sweater is constructed in one piece, so it began with a few hundred stitches. I can't tell you how many times I counted and counted and counted to get the number exactly right. It was a struggle for some darn reason. I didn't think counting could be so tough.

Finally the count was right.

This is the sweater I was working on.

Yes, "was".

The first 6 rows were a breeze - then the problems began. Do the cable set up row, get the stitch markers in place correctly, count stitches ... count is wrong ... take the stitch markers out, replace the markers, count again ... wrong again, (swear) ... take them out again, count, add a stitch or two to get the count right, add the markers ... count ... WRONG AGAIN!!

(Swear loudly)
(Husband innocently comments out loud how much fun I appear to be having!)

It is so long since he has seen me knit anything complicated, he forgets that there is a danger period for by-standers.

I glare.

He remembers.

He retreats!

Then I finally get the count right. I read the stitch instructions, I knit a whole row. I knit it WRONG!!!

Clearly ... I am out of practice at this knitting thing. Guess I am now just a "knitter", and not a "Knitter"!!

I unknit several hundred stitches (several hundred frick'en stitches) - using swear words that I haven't used for 18 months.

Husband is no where to be seen.

Finally I get it right.

I knit about 4 inches of this sweater (one heck of a lot of knitting).

I look at my work. Everything looks right ... except ... I decide I don't like the match of this yarn to this pattern. I just don't like it.

I set the project aside.
I go to the kitchen.
I pour myself some wine.
I take a big gulp.
I go back.
I look again.
It has to go.
Another big gulp of wine!!

I rip out all 4 inches. I wasn't using this "favored of all yarns" on the wrong pattern.

But I was not deterred!

I found 4 other possible patterns. But this time I already knew my gauge with this yarn and needles so I picked a pattern that matched that gauge. Sort of a backwards process but no matter.

Big smile on face! (the wine helped) I was knitting again.

I cast on for a new sweater, called The February Lady Sweater. This pattern begins at the neck and knits down to the hem (a top down sweater). I had decided to change the pattern a bit, but 4 inches into knitting the sweater I determined that I didn't like one of my changes.

(Actually I am way past that word now ...
I am on to bigger, better, more colorful swear words!)

My husband is no where to be seen, and now my mom and the cats have left the room as well!

Once AGAIN, I ripped it all out.

What you are seeing is my third attempt with the yarn! And I think I have it right this time.

I think!
Anyway, all these attempts have not dampened my love of this yarn or for knitting this sweater. The yarn is soft, beautifully dyed with slight tonal changes, and produces a beautiful fabric.

The swearing and dangerous period for on-lookers has passed.

The family and pets have returned to the room.

The Knitter has also returned!


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Martians Have Landed

Brain Slug

That is what I am knitting. Actually 2 of them! One for my son and one for his fiancee.

No really! Here are the pictures.

One for him.

One for her.

It is an actual pattern.

I don't make this stuff up!

I knew when I began this project using the unpleasant, cheap, squeaky acrylic yarn that made my hands hurt because it wouldn't give on the needles, ... I knew I had to do something different with the second one. Yes ... female. Easier to add some bows and a ruffle, than to add gonads.

And when I showed this pattern to the folks in my knitting group ... some said "cool".



While I was on knitting break did the martian pods come down to earth from outer space and inhabit every one's brains? Or was everyone just so happy to see me knitting again. They would have said "cool" to anything I knitted.

(You wanted to see the stitches up close, right?)

For years I have waited for my son to say,

"Mom, can you make me a sweater, or a pair of socks, or a scarf."

Years, I tell you.

And when he finally forms the words in his mouth ...

"Mom, can you make me a ..."

He finishes the sentence with ...
"Brain Slug"



Do you think this is a test? Do you think I passed?

If anyone out there responds "cool," I will know just how far the martians have invaded my world!

I wonder what he will ask for next.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I am Knitter!

I am a knitter!

(Let me say this again,
with feeling,
stamping feet on the ground,
slamming fist on the table,
raising voice loudly)

I Am A Knitter!

... there, that is better.

.... that kind of knitter.

At least until 18 months ago!

Since beginning knitting (1997), my most productive knitting year ever was 2009! It was "The Year of Me!" Everything I knit was for me. I completed about 9 projects that year - 4 of them sweaters. That was the year when I told my knitting group they could also knit all their projects for me, too. :-)

... ahh, they were kind, smiled, ... they are such a tolerant group!

But the period of the "great unravel" started in January 2010. Little to no knitting.

No problem, I said to myself. Everyone is off their game at some point. But "off game" extended into June 2011.

The "why" of this knitting wasteland escapes me. Yes, I know, stress has been a constant companion in the last year, but normal knitters turn to their knitting to relieve stress and to settle their minds. Knitting is a calming, mediative practice. Knitting relaxes. Knitting distracts you from stressors.

Well, not for me. So something was serious out of whack.

Time to cure myself. And it has been a struggle.

First I tried other distractions thinking I could jump-start my crafting life again. I have tried my hand a spinning and weaving. Loved both. But ...

This summer I literally forced myself to sit down and pick up knitting needles. I started and completed a few simple projects. Mostly hand towels and face clothes. No complicated stitches, no patterns. I could feel my normal self returning.

This partial sweater, that I had about 5 additional inches on, I frogged (ripped out the yarn). I stopped knitting that sweater about 12 months ago, and I had lost my mojo for that project. Beautiful, yes, but it wasn't the right yarn for the pattern, it required too much thinking, it was too big for my shrinking figure ... it had to go.

I finished up a pair of simple green socks I started in January 2010!

Finally I was up to date. Time to look forward and cast on.


New stuff on the needles. New yarns. New projects.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Steve Jobs

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you want to become.
Everything else is secondary."

~~Steve Jobs

Thanks, Steve. I couldn't agree more.

You will be missed.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What was I doing?

Well, I survived my blogging break.

I really didn't think I would be faithful about taking a break.

The first few days were tough. But then life filled the void - and for a change it wasn't filled with any illnesses or trips to the hospital with mom.

First, it began with the vertical blinds that cover the kitchen slider. The top cap spontaneously fell to the floor missing me by inches. Just popped off - weirdest thing. In fact, the blinds began to fail weeks ago when they wouldn't close or open without muscle. These are the new ones.

The kitchen door slider was not to be outdone. While measuring for the new binds, I noticed the frame of the glass was bent in the slider. The door has been hard to close for months. Guess the frame was bent from all the effort. Time to replace this old door of about 20 years. This is the new door.
Then I noticed that the white wood interior frame they put in around the slider was essentially unfinished! We didn't have any paint from the original paint job in the kitchen (from probably 15 years ago). So I purchased a lovely green color called Dusty Leaf that I thought we would use in the future and painted the frame.
Then I realized that it doesn't take a gallon to paint the frame, so I started painting a few other surfaces that were just a total mess. We desperately need to paint the whole interior, but a few kitchen surfaces might spruce up the look until I can forced myself to experience such a disruptive activity. Have I told you how much I hate painting?

But I did this.

And this.

But truthfully, we need to paint because the other old paint surfaces look so sad next to the freshly painted ones.

I am sure you can see how this is developing ... and I know that NO ONE is surprised.

When I bought the paint I also picked up color swatches of a companion color called Lush Shade. It is an off white with a hint of green in the same color way as Dusty Leaf.

Next week - a trip to Lowe's is on my agenda. I may as well pick up some caulk so I can repair the fine cracks between the wall and the counter.

And while I am there I might casually check out the materials for new counters, 'cause once I paint the walls, I am sure the counters will start screaming about how pissy they look!


And still, I will not do more than a few painted surfaces! :-)

That statement is a true one - because this old body can't do even this little bit of painting without complaining loudly each morning.

I do love the new look of the kitchen. The all white appliances and white counter look so much better against a darker color. And the simple changes made things look a little cleaner and inviting.

So that is one thing that has kept my fingers busy.

I'll check in with some other projects that have filled my life during the break in a few days.